CLEAGE, PEARL.
Pearl Cleage papers, 1949-2011

Emory University

Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library

Atlanta, GA 30322

404-727-6887

rose.library@emory.edu

Permanent link: http://pid.emory.edu/ark:/25593/c4jrb

Collection Stored Off-Site

All or portions of this collection are housed off-site. Materials can still be requested but researchers should expect a delay of up to two business days for retrieval.


Descriptive Summary

Creator: Cleage, Pearl.
Title: Pearl Cleage papers, 1949-2011
Call Number:Manuscript Collection No. 1223
Extent: 73.5 linear ft. (155 boxes), 37 oversized papers (OP), 4 extra-oversized papers (XOP), 8 bound volumes (BV), and AV Masters: 5.25 linear feet (6 boxes)
Abstract:Personal papers of African American novelist and playwright Pearl Cleage including correspondence, manuscript and typescript writings, subject files, professional papers, printed material, photographs, writings by others, and audiovisual material.
Language:Materials entirely in English.

Administrative Information

Restrictions on Access

Special restrictions apply: Series 1: Personal journals are closed to researchers until December 2037.

Series 2: Due to privacy concerns, some material has been redacted.

Series 3: Due to privacy concerns, some material has been redacted.

Series 4: Professional papers are closed to researchers until December 2037.

Collection stored off-site. Researchers must contact the Rose Library in advance to access this collection.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction.

Source

Purchase, 2012.

Citation

[after identification of item(s)], Pearl Cleage papers, Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University.

Processing

Processed by Amber L. Moore, Jason Gutierrez, Ariel Svarch, and Tricia Hersey, 2015.


Collection Description

Biographical Note

Pearl Michelle Cleage was born on December 7, 1948, in Springfield, Massachusetts, the daughter of Doris Graham and Albert B. Cleage, Jr. She grew up in Detroit, Michigan, where her mother was a teacher and her father was a church pastor. Albert Cleage was a leader in liberation theology, including the founding and leadership of The Shrines of the Black Madonna of the Pan-African Orthodox Christian Church, and the creation of the Freedom Now political party.

After graduating from Northwestern High School in 1966, Cleage enrolled at Howard University in Washington, D.C., where she majored in playwriting and dramatic literature under the tutelage of Owen Dodson and Paul Carter Harrison. She also took an active role in many of the demonstrations and protests that marked this turbulent time. In 1969, she moved to Atlanta, Georgia, and enrolled at Spelman College, graduating in 1971 with a bachelor's degree in drama. She later joined the Spelman faculty as a writer and playwright in residence and as a creative director.

From 1972-1973, she produced "Ebony Beat" and "Ebony Beat Journal," a weekly contemporary affairs program on WQXI-TV (Atlanta), that focused on issues of interest to the African American community. In 1973, she joined Maynard Jackson's mayoral campaign as principal speechwriter, and once he was elected, stayed on as his press secretary until 1976. Since then, her contribution to the Atlanta community has been steady, finding expression through her columns in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Atlanta Gazette, and Atlanta Tribune; in the pages of Catalyst, a literary journal she cofounded and edited; and in her work as a faculty member at Spelman.

Her first novel, What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day (1997) was a New York Times bestseller and a 1998 Oprah's [Winfrey] Book Club selection. In addition to her numerous works of fiction, Cleage has also published several volumes of poetry, and has written and produced numerous plays.

She was married to Michael Lomax, an Atlanta politician and educator, from 1969-1979 and they are the parents of one daughter, Deignan Cleage Lomax. Cleage married Zaron W. Burnett Jr., writer and theatre director, in 1994 and they have collaborated on many creative projects over the years.

Pearl Michelle Cleage was born on December 7, 1948, in Springfield, Massachusetts, the daughter of Doris Graham and Albert B. Cleage, Jr. She grew up in Detroit, Michigan, where her mother was a teacher and her father was a church pastor. Albert Cleage was a leader in liberation theology, including the founding and leadership of The Shrines of the Black Madonna of the Pan-African Orthodox Christian Church, and the creation of the Freedom Now political party.

After graduating from Northwestern High School in 1966, Cleage enrolled at Howard University in Washington, D.C., where she majored in playwriting and dramatic literature under the tutelage of Owen Dodson and Paul Carter Harrison. She also took an active role in many of the demonstrations and protests that marked this turbulent time. In 1969, she moved to Atlanta, Georgia, and enrolled at Spelman College, graduating in 1971 with a bachelor's degree in drama. She later joined the Spelman faculty as a writer and playwright in residence and as a creative director.

From 1972-1973, she produced "Ebony Beat" and "Ebony Beat Journal," a weekly contemporary affairs program on WQXI-TV (Atlanta), that focused on issues of interest to the African American community. In 1973, she joined Maynard Jackson's mayoral campaign as principal speechwriter, and once he was elected, stayed on as his press secretary until 1976. Since then, her contribution to the Atlanta community has been steady, finding expression through her columns in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Atlanta Gazette, and Atlanta Tribune; in the pages of Catalyst, a literary journal she cofounded and edited; and in her work as a faculty member at Spelman.

Her first novel, What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day (1997) was a New York Times bestseller and a 1998 Oprah's [Winfrey] Book Club selection. In addition to her numerous works of fiction, Cleage has also published several volumes of poetry, and has written and produced numerous plays.

She was married to Michael Lomax, an Atlanta politician and educator, from 1969-1979 and they are the parents of one daughter, Deignan Cleage Lomax. Cleage married Zaron W. Burnett Jr., writer and theatre director, in 1994 and they have collaborated on many creative projects over the years.

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of the papers of Pearl Cleage from 1949-2011 and includes correspondence and personal papers, writings by Cleage, subject files, professional papers, printed material, photographs, writings by others, audiovisual material, and memorabilia. The materials document Cleage's works as a playwright, author, and activist. Correspondence is both personal and professional in nature and includes letters from fellow writers A.B. Spellman and Tayari Jones. Personal papers contain awards and honors, high school and college papers, and Cleage's personal journals. Family papers include the personal papers of Cleage's father, Albert Cleage, Jr., also known as Reverend Jaramogi Abebe Agyeman; her mother, Doris Graham Cleage; and Cleage's sister, Kristin Cleage Williams. Writings contain original manuscripts of all her published novels, scripts, articles featured in periodicals such as the Atlanta Tribune, Atlanta Southline, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, collected essays, interviews, speeches, poems and other writings. Writings are both manuscript and typescript drafts including annotations by Cleage and her editors. The major themes reflected in Cleage's writings are social change, African American womanhood, domestic violence, community renewal and uplift, revolution, love, courage, strength, and empowerment.

Subject files are comprised of correspondence and printed material on topics including feminist literature, female artists and writers, and sisterhood. Of particular interest are files containing research conducted by Cleage for her literary works. Professional papers include financial documents, royalty statements from book sales and the production of plays, and contracts for speaking engagements. Printed material consists of published documents written by, about, or collected by Cleage including articles, essays, promotional advertisements, brochures, and flyers. Photographs contain portraits and snapshots of Cleage, her relatives, friends, and events promoting her literary works and accomplishments. Writings by others include essays, poems, short stories, and manuscripts and drafts of works by writers such as Cleage's husband, Zaron W. Burnett, Jr. Audiovisual material consists of audio and video recordings of interviews and performances of Cleage and her works, as well as recordings of her speaking engagements at various institutions and events.

Arrangement Note

Organized into eight series: (1) Correspondence and personal papers, (2) Writings by Cleage, (3) Subject files, (4) Professional papers, (5) Printed material, (6) Photographs, (7) Writings by others, and (8) Audiovisual material.


Selected Search Terms

Personal Names

Topical Terms

Form/Genre Terms


Description of Series

v1.9.0